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Which of these would make the best first frog?

  • D. Tinc Azureus

    Votes: 7 50.0%
  • D. Tinc Robertus

    Votes: 3 21.4%
  • R. Imitator

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • R. Variabilis

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • A. Galac Yellow

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Other (please specify, but keep in mind I dont love the pattern of Leucs as much).

    Votes: 2 14.3%
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know it seems like I've posted a lot lately so sorry if its too much haha. All the info I've gotten has been really helpful in decision-making and preparedness so far.

Ive been reading a TON everywhere all over this forum in search of my perfect first frog, including the "Popular and Helpful beginner discussion threads". I've also gone through and looked at practically every species that is available for sale, then made a list of candidates based on color and patterns I liked best. I ran searches through this forum for every one of those species and then ruled out the ones that I feel weren't very good fits either based on difficultly or shyness. I finally have a top 5, but I am pretty stuck at this point, so Im hoping to get some final input or catch any red flags on why any of these may not be good first frogs. I am going to get the Insitu Amazonia, which is 22.5X17.5X24. Plants, hardscape, and background will be tailored to whatever suits the selected species best. As a side note, I see Leucs come up a LOT for first dart frogs, but I am not the biggest fan of their color pattern which is why they arent on this list... but they are in the back of my head to keep in mind.

Main things I am looking for in order of importance:
  • Visibility. I won't have to spend forever looking for them in the tank. Ill also be able to watch them eat.
  • Bold. They wont always feel the need to hide and arent afraid to sit out in the open.
  • Active. They wont just hang out in the same spot all day.
  • Social. I want to get at least 2 or 3, so it'd be sweet if they had unique social interactions. For the ones that cant be kept in groups Ill start with 3 or 4 and then sell a few once a pair has been established. I slightly favor ones that can be kept in groups because then I wont have to worry about fighting and removing/selling some as time passes.
 

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As a side note, I see Leucs come up a LOT for first dart frogs, but I am not the biggest fan of their color pattern which is why they arent on this list... but they are in the back of my head to keep in mind.
All of them? There's standard, fine spot, banded, and blue foot. I have standard leucs.
Visibility: I see mine all the time and they have plenty of hiding spots. They respond quickly to feeding time.
Bold: They tend to hang out in the open pretty often but I contribute that to tank design.
Active: Out of all my frogs, they are the most active (I have tincs, ranitomeya, and epipedobates). I built a 36x18x18 just for my trio with lots of branches to climb and they use every single branch.
Social: I've never seen any aggression in my group.

I really love leucs. Tincs are great too. Mine act a bit like dogs now that they're older. They come up to the front whenever I open the doors to check if I have flies. If I do, they'll try to jump into the cup. My leucs don't do that, but both dendrobates come to the front to look out their tank and watch me every now and then.

My second choice would be either tinc. Although, I don't know if I would put them in an insitu amazonia.
I slightly favor ones that can be kept in groups because then I wont have to worry about fighting and removing/selling some as time passes.
IMO, that would leave ranitomeya variabilis as the best choice. I don't keep galacts or imitators so I can't speak on those two. I don't see thumbnails being recommended much for beginners but I think it's due to their size and speed. Since you're doing plenty of research first, I think you'll be fine. They do check all 4 points.

It's tough picking a first frog. I picked epipedobates anthonyi 'santa isabel' as my first.
 

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Mantella baroni, Dendrobates auratus, Afrixalus dorsalis, Theloderma corticale
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Dendrobates auratus panama special were my first frogs (panama special is the same as birkahn or highland bronze). I'm still pretty happy with them as a first pick. I lost my female in the first year due to illness and only found a new female last year, but they are back to breeding nowand the group is doing splendidly. Not that I want to make your choice more difficult, but here are my thoughts on your criteria with my first frogs:

  • Visibility. although many people will say that auratus hides and is not very visible. I see all 7 every day throughout most of the day. I believe this is mainly due to morph, tank setup and people not having enough patience to allow the frogs to settle in for at least 3-6 months before deciding that they are an "invisible" species.
  • Bold. My daughter watches them very often and taps the glass, the frogs don't care and stare back at her. They also wait for me to bring food and half of them don't even jump away when I pour in their flies.
  • Active. depends on how much they've eaten in the last day. They are much more active and hunting around if they have not been fed for a day or two. But they are always doing something and hopping around.
  • Social. I have a group of 7, which is a 6.1 group. Although there is some wrestling happening, all frogs are plump and healthy. The "alpha" rank of breeding changes between 3 frogs regularly and they do not seem too bothered by this. They will occasionally eat eggs from each other if I leave them in the tank. With any social frog, they will fight once every now and then to establish who is boss. As long as the animals all appear in good health this usually is not an issue, but even in the most "social" of dart frogs you have to consider the possibility that you might have to separate individuals.
Personally I would go for azureus if I were you. It's easily one of the most iconic of the dart frogs, and it is one of the easiest and boldest if kept in a properly prepared tank. The only downside from your list of criteria is that they are definitely not social.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
All of them? There's standard, fine spot, banded, and blue foot. I have standard leucs.
Of all the variations I like fine spot the most, but its still not my absolute favorite. But when I showed the leucs to my wife (who also actually wants dart frogs and isn't just going along for the ride) she just flat said no so there's that. It'd take really extra convicing.

Visibility: I see mine all the time and they have plenty of hiding spots. They respond quickly to feeding time.
Bold: They tend to hang out in the open pretty often but I contribute that to tank design.
Active: Out of all my frogs, they are the most active (I have tincs, ranitomeya, and epipedobates). I built a 36x18x18 just for my trio with lots of branches to climb and they use every single branch.
Social: I've never seen any aggression in my group.
-sigh- yes they check every box perfectly. I just wish I liked the pattern more than I do.

I really love leucs. Tincs are great too. Mine act a bit like dogs now that they're older. They come up to the front whenever I open the doors to check if I have flies. If I do, they'll try to jump into the cup. My leucs don't do that, but both dendrobates come to the front to look out their tank and watch me every now and then.
😂 Sounds awesome. +1 for the tincs for sure.

My second choice would be either tinc. Although, I don't know if I would put them in an insitu amazonia.
Is it the size of the viv or something else?

IMO, that would leave ranitomeya variabilis as the best choice. I don't keep galacts or imitators so I can't speak on those two. I don't see thumbnails being recommended much for beginners but I think it's due to their size and speed. Since you're doing plenty of research first, I think you'll be fine. They do check all 4 points.
I'd be 100% lying if I said I am nervous about them jumping out of the tank during feeding or cleaning and trying to catch them. Does that actually happen or is it just something to be aware of that might happen?

It's tough picking a first frog.
Understatement of the year. Especially after doing research on them. Thanks for your input!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Although there is some wrestling happening, all frogs are plump and healthy. The "alpha" rank of breeding changes between 3 frogs regularly and they do not seem too bothered by this.
How do you tell if the wrestling is harmless or if they need to be separated? The only wrestling I've seen in on "Life in Color" on Netflix when those 2 pumilios crossed paths.

Personally I would go for azureus if I were you. It's easily one of the most iconic of the dart frogs, and it is one of the easiest and boldest if kept in a properly prepared tank. The only downside from your list of criteria is that they are definitely not social.
I don't mind only having 2 in the viv by the time they are mature, I just don't know how to really identify which ones will have to be booted out. Plus I'd have to sell them fast since I have no spare tank and would probably just have to keep them in a Rubbermaid container or something.
 

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local hobbyist. I would easily give a 25-40% discount on most stuff if someone local came and got it. Shipping is both $$ and potentially hazardous.
 

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I know it seems like I've posted a lot lately so sorry if its too much haha. All the info I've gotten has been really helpful in decision-making and preparedness so far.

Main things I am looking for in order of importance:
  • Visibility. I won't have to spend forever looking for them in the tank. Ill also be able to watch them eat.
  • Bold. They wont always feel the need to hide and arent afraid to sit out in the open.
  • Active. They wont just hang out in the same spot all day.
  • Social. I want to get at least 2 or 3, so it'd be sweet if they had unique social interactions. For the ones that cant be kept in groups Ill start with 3 or 4 and then sell a few once a pair has been established. I slightly favor ones that can be kept in groups because then I wont have to worry about fighting and removing/selling some as time passes.
1) I think it’s awesome that you’re doing your research and asking these questions before jumping into things.
2) Also just going to throw it out there, because I love my little guys and think they’ve been an awesome behinner species…e. Anthonyi! They check mark all those boxes, are visible, bold, active, great in groups…but also very hardy and adorable! They may breed a lot if you have a mixed sex group and are a bit loud, are the only potential downsides. Anyway, worth considering, I think. :p
Plant Leaf Botany Terrestrial plant Flowering plant
 

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Of all the variations I like fine spot the most, but its still not my absolute favorite. But when I showed the leucs to my wife (who also actually wants dart frogs and isn't just going along for the ride) she just flat said no so there's that. It'd take really extra convicing.
lol, yes, I went through similar with my partner. He was like flat out no to any yellow frogs (but too bad when we get golden mantellas someday!) and expressed preference for blue ones…but we got these red frogs instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
1) I think it’s awesome that you’re doing your research and asking these questions before jumping into things.
Yeah I figure it’s better to say “what kind of viv should I build for the frog I want” rather than “what frog can I put in this viv I already made”

Also just going to throw it out there, because I love my little guys and think they’ve been an awesome behinner species…e. Anthonyi! They check mark all those boxes, are visible, bold, active, great in groups…but also very hardy and adorable! They may breed a lot if you have a mixed sex group and are a bit loud, are the only potential downsides. Anyway, worth considering, I think. :p
View attachment 302158
Definitely some cool little guys! I think the loud call may start to bother my wife though if it gets too frequent 😂 also since we won’t be raising tadpoles I’ll either have to freeze eggs or find another hobbyist or close by store that would buy the tadpoles

lol, yes, I went through similar with my partner. He was like flat out no to any yellow frogs (but too bad when we get golden mantellas someday!) and expressed preference for blue ones…but we got these red frogs instead.
It’s not even that they are yellow, haha. We were actually planning on a yellow terrib until I really looked into their needs as far as tank size goes. I think it’s just the black and white stripes that look too much like a bumble bee.
 

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Azureus. They were my first frogs 15 years ago and despite focusing more on obligate eggfeeders with my return to the hobby last year, Azureus have always been my favorite. There is just something about a completely blue frog that (at least to me) is incredibly captivating. Not to mention, they exhibit a nice bold, almost interactive personality. I missed keeping them so badly I just picked up some froglets, despite telling myself I'm not a fan of tincs. (For no particular reason, they're just not my favorite) Azureus excluded from this of course. Ultimately, the decision is yours and I'm confident your preparation and research will set you up for a very rewarding experience in the hobby.

PS. Don't be so sure that tad raising isn't for you. I find it too be one of the most fascinating parts of the hobby along with the parental behaviors specific to each species. I'd be willing to bet you'll have a hard suppressing your excitement if/when you find some eggs. Best of luck, and welcome to the hobby.
 

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Definitely some cool little guys! I think the loud call may start to bother my wife though if it gets too frequent 😂 also since we won’t be raising tadpoles I’ll either have to freeze eggs or find another hobbyist or close by store that would buy the tadpoles
I sure hope local shops aren't reselling tadpoles.

Anyway, since you're shopping in part by appearance, and think you're comfortable with variabilis, you might consider a pair of R. imitator -- some locales mimic variabilis, and imitators raise their own tads -- so you pull froglets once they're half to almost fully grown or so. An Amazonia is an ideal viv for imitators.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Not to mention, they exhibit a nice bold, almost interactive personality.
Yeah that interactive personality definitely draws me to them, as well as being totally blue. I mean how often do you see a blue animal that isn’t in a body of water?

PS. Don't be so sure that tad raising isn't for you. I find it too be one of the most fascinating parts of the hobby along with the parental behaviors specific to each species. I'd be willing to bet you'll have a hard suppressing your excitement if/when you find some eggs. Best of luck, and welcome to the hobby.
When I was maybe 12 or so I had a water dragon, chameleon, ball python, green anole, and 2 leopard geckos in my room. I was so surprised and excited when I saw the leopard geckos laid an egg. I was going to raise that but then my mom thought their red night time heat lamp bothered me so she covered it with a blanket to block the light… ended up cooking the geckos and the egg. So it’d be cool to get one more chance 😂 thing is though I don’t have the space or budget to get another viv every time the tadpoles morph and then reach maturity. In a few years when I finish my basement I’ll have room for one more viv and my wife and I agreed to get one more species. Maybe if that species is group friendly I can raise those eggs and then once they are little froglets put them back in the same viv as their parents? Unless children shouldn’t be housed with their parents or even kept together if incest is a problem?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I sure hope local shops aren't reselling tadpoles.
I was more meaning they’d raise the tadpoles into frogs and then sell the frogs

Anyway, since you're shopping in part by appearance, and think you're comfortable with variabilis, you might consider a pair of R. imitator -- some locales mimic variabilis, and imitators raise their own tads -- so you pull froglets once they're half to almost fully grown or so. An Amazonia is an ideal viv for imitators.
Yeah imitators are on this list as well. But even if they raise their own tads I don’t have room to put them anywhere once they have to be taken out. So I don’t know. I’m curious though why an Amazonia isn’t “ideal” for tincs? The care sheet for tincs says “A sexed pair could be housed in an enclosure with a minimum 18" x 18" footprint, and like most dart frogs, are avid climbers and will use all the height provided.” The Amazonia is 22x18x24 so it exceeds the minimum footprint for a pair and gives them extra height compared to the typically recommended 18x18x18. In fact probably 8” of extra height considering the 2-3 inches of drainage layer that the Amazonia doesn’t require. Am I missing something?
 

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Has anyone mentioned Costa Rican auratus?

Extremely bold, especially once they're sexually mature. Larger than other auratus. They're gorgeous and you'll see them all the time. Also, no where as aggressive as tincs or some ranitomeya. I never had any aggression with any of my groups.

I really can't recommend auratus enough when it comes to new keepers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
@Socratic Monologue I guess I just read between the lines

My second choice would be either tinc. Although, I don't know if I would put them in an insitu amazonia.
Why not put tincs in the amzonia?

An Amazonia is an ideal viv for imitators.
Why not ideal for tincs?

When I mentioned minimum I was quoting the care sheet. If the care sheet recommends a minimum 18x18x18, and I provide a 22.5x17x24, that's 20% more floor space, 53% more height, and 80% more total volume if the negative space is properly designed. I mean "ideal" is their natural environment where even 500 gallons isnt even close, so where do you draw the line between "minimum" and "ideal"? And running a search of tinc tank sizes and ignoring all the 10 gallon BS I found 18x18x18 or 24x18x18 to be the most common recommended sizes, and the amazonia is larger than both of those. Sorry if this comes across as defensive I really don't mean it to be but Im just slightly taken back by the fact that I am providing a larger tank than what is recommended by the care sheet (and the rest of the internet) and yet it still doesn't seem to be enough.
 

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@Socratic Monologue
Sorry if this comes across as defensive I really don't mean it to be but Im just slightly taken back by the fact that I am providing a larger tank than what is recommended by the care sheet (and the rest of the internet) and yet it still doesn't seem to be enough.
Our hobby is constantly evolving. The majority opinion 5 years ago was that an 18x18x18 was big enough for most frogs. Today we look at these tanks as too small for most frogs. Personally I don't find 18" of height to be sufficient for any of our frogs.

So while the caresheet says 18" cube, most of us now believe species like tincs need more floor space than that. I recommend 36" long for any terrestrial frog. And really for any frog IMO.

Most of those caresheets are over 5 years old so that's the discrepancy you're seeing.
 

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And I'm sorry if anything I say comes off other than helpful and supportive -- sincerely. :)

Being larger, active frogs, Tincs require a good amount of floor space. A sexed pair could be housed in an enclosure with a minimum 18" x 18" footprint, and like most dart frogs, are avid climbers and will use all the height provided, taking advantage of all climbable surfaces such as large sturdy leaves, ledges and branches.
Here's the caresheet bit, I didn't see any height measurement except "all the height provided" which means taller is better. Note that care sheet, while some updating was done to eliminate the most egregious claims, is fifteen years old. We're working on making new care sheets, but it has been slow going -- it is more work than a person might think, and takes the help of many people who have many irons of their own in the fire.

Default thinking here seems to be that 24" high is the minimum for general landscaping reasons as well as microhabitat provision -- thermal, moisture, and illumination gradients are important to provide, and easier to provide in taller vivs.

There's no sharp line between 'ideal' and 'minimum' and even 'abusive', and different keepers will have different reasons for their recommendations. "Ideal" has to accommodate practicality, so I wouldn't say that an indoor hobby enclosure with a volume of 1000 cubic meters (reasonable estimate of a dart's home range) is ideal. There's a sweet spot, I think, and for a pair of imitator an Amazonia might be it (actually, an Alto might be slightly more it, but financial considerations have to play some role, too, and there's definitely a point of diminishing returns somewhere).

Tincs, I don't quite know -- I have a pair of 'Bakhuis' (well, a trio currently, as I'm rotating frogs through to find a pair) which is a dwarf locale in a 18 x 18 x 24 and it feels close to 'minimum' to me right now, even though I took a lot of pains to maximize usable space, both in the viv generally and given the particular natural habitat of the species. I personally would be uncomfortable with a pair of a larger tinc locale in there.

I have the same situation with a pair of 'Fine Spot' leucs in an 18 x 18 x 24. It is OK, but they're the smallest locale, and socially easygoing, but I don't think a smaller viv, or a much larger locale, or a trio would be a better situation in that viv.
 

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To piggy back on what @Socratic Monologue said. I had a pair of azureus in an 18x18x24" when I first got into the hobby. Within 6 months I had moved them to a 40 gallon breeder because it became obvious it wasn't enough space for them.
 

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I don't keep hardly any of t
To piggy back on what @Socratic Monologue said. I had a pair of azureus in an 18x18x24" when I first got into the hobby. Within 6 months I had moved them to a 40 gallon breeder because it became obvious it wasn't enough space for them.
I've done the same with a group of Adelphobates galactonatus, moved them from an 18x18x24" to 39x19x19" terrarium since they clearly wanted more space to use.
 
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